Obama: Disasters unite 'American family'

June 30, 2012 at 6:00 AM
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COLORADO SPRINGS, June 30 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday he told crews fighting wildfires in Colorado "all of America has their back."

In his weekly radio and Internet address, taped in Colorado Springs, where the president was touring areas affected by the Waldo Canyon fire, Obama told listeners firefighters were working 18-hour shifts and volunteers were on hand helping supply crews with food, water and "all the resources they need."

"And we've been engaging in some unprecedented coordination between federal, state, and local communities to try to bring this fire under control," the president said.

"And one of the things I've done here, in addition to saying thank you to these firefighters, is to let them know that all of America has their back. One of the things that happens, whether it's a fire here in Colorado, or a tornado in Alabama or Missouri, or a flood or a hurricane in Florida, one of the things that happens here in America is when we see our fellow citizens in trouble and having difficulty, we come together as one American family, as one community."

He said that spirit is on display in Colorado Springs, "where people are working together, promising each other to rebuild. We've got to make sure that we are there with them every step of the way, even after this fire is put out."

The White House said the federal government has sent thousands of firefighters, hundreds of fire engines, and more than 100 aircraft to support firefighting efforts in Western states, including Colorado.

Obama asked listeners to contribute to the American Red Cross and said Washington would "continue to make sure that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Forest Service, our military and National Guard and all the resources that we have available at the federal level are brought to bear in fighting this fire."

"But this is a good reminder of what makes us Americans," the president said. "We don't just look out for ourselves; we look out for each other. And one of the things that I told these firefighters is that we can provide them all the resources they need, but only they provide the courage and the discipline to be able to actually fight these fires."

He urged Americans to support "first responders, our emergency management folks, our firefighters, our military -- everybody who helps secure our liberty and our security each and every day."

"I know this is a little bit unusual -- we don't usually do weekly addresses like this, but I thought it was a good opportunity for us to actually focus attention on a problem that's going on here in Colorado Springs," Obama said. "We never know when it might be our community that's threatened, and it's important that we're there for them."

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